Those who know me know that I do a lot of training on QuickBooks and other Intuit products. Occasionally I expand to other apps that work with QuickBooks. I often get asked about certifications. Should I become certified? Why should I become certified? I’m a certified bookkeeper or CPA. Why do I need any other certifications? Which certifications should I take? And….the biggest question of all….how do I find time to study for the exams?
It can be overwhelming. QuickBooks alone offers 6 different certifications: basic and advanced for QuickBooks Online; basic and advanced for QuickBooks Desktop; QuickBooks Enterprise and QuickBooks Point of Sale. And, if you’re part of the reseller program, you can get certified in QuickBooks Point of Sale powered by Revel. And then, there are a lot of developers that offer certifications – TSheets, Live Plan, Method and Concur just to name a few. Phew! When do I have time to work if I have to study and take all these exams?
Slow down; take a deep breath and think about the focus of your business and the types of clients that you serve. Do you work with more than one client who uses QuickBooks? If yes, it’s a no brainer. Get certified in QuickBooks. It doesn’t matter what other certifications you hold. You need to get smart about QuickBooks. You need to know how to help your clients on a day to day basis. You may even need to know how to troubleshoot (unless your clients don’t make mistakes!) The best part of the certification process is the education you get. Often I review (or help write) the certifications before they’re released and I’m still learning new things (or maybe I knew them at one time and then forgot about them because I didn’t use them). Take the time to get the training. Take the time to review the supplemental guides. Take the time to experiment in sample files. It just makes you smarter and smarter. That translates to being a hero in your client’s eyes. Then, take the exam to get recognized for all the hard studying you’ve done.
Where do you start? What version of QuickBooks are your clients using now? What versions of QuickBooks do you envision supporting 5 years from now? If you’re supporting desktop clients now but want to move to QuickBooks Online (QBO), I’d start with the QuickBooks Online certification. That’s where you want to be known as the expert. It’s free….you can’t beat that. It’s also easy to get training. All the certifications have pre-recorded training, but Intuit’s Accountant University offers 4 hour certification prep training webinars for QBO most every week. You can “chat” your questions, which is helpful. Intuit also has traditionally done certification training tours, traveling around the country offering QuickBooks Online Cert Prep training. Woodard Group, along with Intuit, offer virtual conferences a few times a year, which typically have certification prep training. And, of course, at Scaling New Heights, cert prep training is offered.
If you support QuickBooks desktop clients, take the desktop certification. You need to choose one of the paid paths of the ProAdvisor program, but remember, not only do you get the certification, you get desktop software and other benefits. If you want live training for the desktop, you’ll probably be going to Scaling New Heights….or perhaps a vCon.
And then what? Again, look at the focus of your practice. What kinds of clients do you support? What kind of work do you do for them? You may be able to stop here although I recommend, for your own education, that you work towards taking the advanced cert exams. In my practice, I do mostly training, troubleshooting and conversions. And I work both in QBO and QB Desktop. So, I want (and need) to know as much as I can about both products. That’s why I went for both Advanced certifications as well as Enterprise and Point of Sale. It empowers me to help my clients. It helps me empower my clients to do a great job. You can take the QuickBooks Online Advanced training and exam as soon as you pass the basic cert exam. That may be your next step. You can also take Enterprise and Point of Sale training and exams as soon as you pass the basic desktop cert exam. If you support those kinds of clients, take the training and exams. To take the Advanced Desktop exam, you have to be QuickBooks Desktop certified for the current 3 years.
Okay, MB, you’ve convinced me. Now tell me when I’m going to get this done. I’ll tell you what works for me. If I sign up for live training….I’ll take it and then take the exam. The certs that take me the longest are the ones that are only self-study. (I’m almost done with the new Enterprise cert and haven’t started the new Point of Sale cert). I don’t think I’m atypical (at least with regards to this). Look for the webinars; attend Scaling New Heights (5 of the certs will be offered-Desktop Basic will not be); look for the vCon offerings; put Accountant University on your list of favorites to see what’s being offered either as a webinar or live training. http://quickbooks.intuit.com/accountants/resources/university/training-for-accountants. If you can’t attend live training, you need to put appointments on your calendar for study and exam time. Whether you choose to take a couple of days or plan to put aside 3 hours a week, if it doesn’t go on the calendar, it probably won’t happen. JUST DO IT!